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Interview conducted August 17 2019
Interview published August 31 2019

"Sometimes it's incredible what a booking agent or managers can do wrong and still be in favor of the artist."

The Symphonic metallers Visions Of Atlantis have their new record Wanderers out on August 30th and as they played at Sabaton Open Air in central Sweden a while ago, Metal Covenant got some time together with drummer and original member Thomas Caser and vocalist Clémentine Delauney.

Tobbe: You guys put out a record on August 30th and in what way does that new record go in line with Visions Of Atlantis' past catalogue?

Clémentine: I think this is the perfect development from The Deep & The Dark [2018]. We started to write pretty soon after that album dropped 'cause we realized the feedback was so great and we wanted to keep going and be active. And this album was written in, I would say, one flow of inspiration.

Some people have asked us if any songs had been written for The Deep & The Dark and were brought to this one; absolutely not! But the idea was just to take it from where we left it at The Deep & The Dark and go further in every direction; production-wise, music-wise, make it more epic, and flirting with pop and rock as well.

Tobbe: It's only been 18 months since your last record was out, so are you as inspired to make music as you ever were?

Thomas: Yes. There has been a lot of silence and a lot of non-creativity. But now with this lineup I really feel that we need to keep this going. I mean, we've been around for some time, but it feels like this has just started again, so. It's basically like a new band to us.

Tobbe: It's only you personally, Thomas, who have actually made more than one album before with this band, but is recording an album pretty much the same procedure anyway?

Thomas: You know, it's natural to bring in new people. If you have new creative forces and new energy, then you wanna record, and that's what we're gonna keep on doing, because we're already thinking about the next one. [Laughs]

Tobbe: If someone would say that Wanderers is just another Visions Of Atlantis record, what would you say to that person then?

Clémentine: Well, I don't think you can even describe Visions Of Atlantis' music through its history, because it's been changing so much. So the person who would say that has never listened to Visions Of Atlantis properly. Of course it's a symphonic metal album, but we have a lot of different influences and we use our voices in many different ways. So, it's very diverse and very rich, and you can not narrow it down to just that definition, saying it's another Visions Of Atlantis album. It doesn't mean anything actually.

Tobbe: And how are you, Thomas, trying to not make this band a solo band, since you're the founding member?

Thomas: I'm just the drummer, you know. That's all I do. [Laughs] Musically, I need people. You know, I can't do anything musically, so I'm relying on the band. So it's a band; not a solo project. Other people gave up on this thing and now we have a stable lineup and Clémentine is actually the longest lasting female singer as of now. No one else has been in the band that long. (Clémentine:) By the way, Thomas. I have to tell you something… [Laughs] Well, he's our mastermind anyway. He has a vision for the band.

Tobbe: When you first started making this record, what did your initial plan look like at that point?

Clémentine: I don't think we had, like, a very precise plan. We knew we wanted to drop it quickly, but we also knew we had to improve on every level, so we wanted a bigger production and we wanted to bring the auditor to a deeper universe of Visions Of Atlantis. That's why the opening track is that long and it's that epic, and it's been chosen as the opening track on purpose. So there were general ideas and general guidelines, but if you limit yourself too much then you don't create and you stick to your own borders, so.

Tobbe: Would you even dare to say that this is the best Visions Of Atlantis record ever?

Thomas: Yes. But I could not always say that with new albums. Actually, besides The Deep & The Dark, I was never satisfied with any album but Cast Away [2004]. So yeah, this is the best so far. (Clémentine:) We're really excited to release it. I mean, we've been playing a couple of new songs live and the reaction has always been very intense for these new songs, so we really cannot wait to have our fans listen to the entire album. We're pretty sure that people who were convinced by The Deep & The Dark will love this one.

(Thomas:) And we have never played that many shows with any other album. The Deep & The Dark: this year I think it's well over 50 shows. I mean, for other bands this might be little, but for us it's a lot.

Tobbe: Some artists prefer to not play songs from the new album before it's released, because if something goes wrong, and all those YouTube clips. But you aren't afraid of playing new songs obviously.

Clémentine: No, because we wanted to try them out live and get some reaction, you know. When you create something you're so eager to share it. And even when you play your older songs, like from The Deep & The Dark, you could still make mistakes and you could still look bad on YouTube. And one performance, somewhere… I think people don't judge that anymore.

(Thomas:) You can always test it, you know. We did it with The Deep & The Dark as well. We played two songs live before the album was released. I mean, it's better to play songs that were written with this lineup, for these voices [Clémentine and male vocalist Michele Guaitoli], than playing something that, you know, has been written for someone else.

Tobbe: What have you guys personally always found exciting and appealing with symphonic metal?

Thomas: I don't know, actually. I ask myself that a lot. But it's like it's melody, it still has heaviness, it's very storytelling. It just takes you to a different world, another reality, and I think that's what I always liked about it. And I don't wanna, you know, talk about problems of the everyday world when I make music, so this is something to take the listener to somewhere else.

Tobbe: Thomas. When you were there in the beginning, on the first album [Eternal Endless Infinity, 2002], you were a young person, and now you're kind of halfway through life. So, in what way do you look differently at making music today than in the beginning?

Thomas: I don't look at it different at all. You know, I still have the same enthusiasm. When I look back, this is where we wanted the band to go. I mean, this is not where we want it to end. We wanna go further and grow more, but this is why we started the band. So it's just a little delay. It's like we've been working on this a lot longer than expected.

Tobbe: Not so many Austrian metal bands make it outside their own borders and how come bands from other countries get more exposure than you guys get?

Thomas: Right now we're not a real Austrian band anymore, you know. Clémentine is from France and Michele is from Italy. We have 3 guys from Austria. I know there's many Austrian bands, like we just met Harakiri For The Sky at the airport. That's a really cool Austrian band. But there's not many Austrian bands that are melodic. Austria is really dark; death metal / black metal. So I don't know. Maybe they stop too early. Austrians tend to complain a little bit too much, you know. It's easier to complain about something and to put other people down, especially when it comes to bands and, you know, to look at yourself.

Tobbe: And as a CEO for Napalm Records, is there really room for more bands?

Thomas: There's always room for bands, yes. I don't care if a band is from The Ukraine, from Moldova, or from Italy, or from the United States, or from Austria, as long as there's something that's unique or good about them, or if you can see that they have the will and potential to develop to something.

Tobbe: Clémentine. In what way is Thomas good at separating his own job from this band, if you know what I mean?

Clémentine: Well, I think it's great that he's both, because when we discuss something sometimes he has a musician reaction and sometimes he has the label guy reaction. It's two different visions and it enriches and widens the perspective of it. So it's actually good for some strategic and promotional choices, that he's there for that for us. But he knows how to, depending on the circumstances, be the artist or be the label guy.

But sometimes in one day he has to go for a business meeting with a band and then he has to change and do soundcheck or go play a show. Maybe he sometimes feel that he has to split himself in half too much. He works on the road, in a van, computer on, and it's not like the artists can live fully on this, unfortunately.

Tobbe: Is it hard for you, Thomas, to not put too much effort into Visions Of Atlantis?

Thomas: I wouldn't be at the label if I didn't have the band, you know. You know, I don't use it for the band. If the album sales are not there, you know… I treat it like any other band, because it wouldn't be professional and serious if I did it the other way. So professional, to me, this band is like any other Napalm Records band.

Tobbe: A lot of artists actually do badmouth their labels and is that just something artists say for the sake of it, or why is that?

Thomas: I don't know. Someone keeps telling the bands that the label is, you know, the rich and ignorant. People that's just in the office and just count money. That the label make money. But there is a lot of people with dedication and love to the music there, and artists badmouth for no reason. Sometimes it's incredible what a booking agent or managers can do wrong and still be in favor of the artist.

But it's just a habit from early days, that everything that goes wrong has the label to blame. It's like, you know, if you're a smaller band you see bigger artists that always complain about the label, "They didn't do this. They didn't do that." and then they just pick that up, like a bad habit.

(Clémentine:) Because it's hard also to face failure and to acknowledge, "Okay. It's maybe because the album I just dropped was not as good as the one before, or is not good at all.". It's easier to always find someone else to blame. 'Cause people are like that. They barely take any responsibilities, you know, for what they do themselves. So I think it's a pretty natural reaction. A lot of people blame their bosses anyway.

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